Editorial: Local group offers funds to more than just recent grads

Mar. 04, 2014 @ 11:57 PM

As the state pushes to meet Governor Bill Haslam's "Drive to 55" initiative, which seeks to bring the percentage of Tennesseans with college degrees or certifications to 55 percent by the year 2025, there's a portion of the population that's often forgotten.

The availability of grants and scholarships for college are widespread for the graduating high school senior, but older adults who wish to go back to school are often left searching for help.

One local group is seeking to make its scholarship offerings more open those non-traditional students.

The Smoky Mountain Sevier Chapter of the American Business Women's Association (ABWA) offers its yearly scholarship not only to girls graduating from local high schools, but by older women seeking to either go back to college or start their higher education for the first time.

It's a worthy cause. By aiming a portion of its funding for this underserved population, ABWA is helping people improve their quality of life through education.

"Typically, the non-traditional student is very limited on funding opportunities as scholarship dollars are not as readily available as they were upon high school graduation," Tammy S. Johnson, of the local chapter of ABWA, said. 

Currently, the group funds five scholarships — three for $2,000 and two more $1,000 scholarships. The scholarships have different criteria and take into account the student's classification (junior, senior, etc.). 

While that amount may not fully fund the tuition for a student, it would certainly be a great help for someone struggling to climb the mountain of expenses related to college. 

Money for the scholarship is raised through the group's annual basket auction. It will be held this year at the Holiday Inn in Pigeon Forge on Saturday, April 5. 

More details about both the available scholarships and the fundraiser can be viewed at abwasevier.org.